Apple Continues to Revamp Marketing Efforts With New Hire

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has hired a prominent branding agency executive in a move that appears to be part of a major marketing overhaul being undertaken by the Cupertino-based company. According to advertising industry news site AdAge, Wolff Olins Global CEO Karl Heiselman will be joining Apple sometime next month.

“After an amazing 14 years at Wolff Olins, seven as Global CEO, Karl Heiselman is moving on to join Apple in California,” said a Wolff Olins spokesperson in an email to AdAge. Heiselman also confirmed the move and told AdAge that he would be taking “an exciting new role” in marketing communications with the iPhone maker.

This will not be Heiselman’s first stint at Apple. As noted by AdAge, the branding agency executive previously worked for Apple as a design contractor in the early 1990s during Steve Jobs’s absence. Heiselman discussed his time at Apple in an interview with The Guardian in 2009. “It was a bit of a weird time, they were trying to find their way,” recalled Heiselman. “The big lesson I learned was they were trying to be somebody they weren’t and Jobs came back and said very clearly, ‘we are going to go back to who we really are.’”

Although Heiselman praised Apple for creating a “flawless experience,” he also made a prescient observation about the company’s evolving image. “I think it might be in danger of becoming too cool, maybe not too cool, but too slick,” he told The Guardian. Heiselman’s hiring follows the recently revealed news that Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller was dissatisfied with the marketing efforts of TBWA\Media Arts Lab, the company’s longtime advertising agency.

According to evidence introduced into the court record in the ongoing patent-infringement trial between Apple and Samsung (SSNLF.PK), Schiller wrote an email to CEO Tim Cook that stated, “[W]e are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been for a while,” reported The Wall Street Journal. Omnicom Group’s (NYSE:OMC) TBWA\Media Arts Lab may be best known for creating Apple’s iconic “1984” Super Bowl commercial.

Heiselman’s hiring also follows Apple’s decision to add several new ad agencies to its roster. As previously reported by AdAge, Apple has partnered with four more digital ad agencies, including WPP’s (NASDAQ:WPPGY) AKQA, Interpublic Group’s (NYSE:IPG) Huge, Area 17, and Kettle. According to AdAge’s sources, Apple’s new partnerships will not affect any of its current agency relationships.

However, the new ad agency partnerships and other recent marketing division hires suggest that Apple is undertaking a major rebranding effort. Last September, AdAge cited an unnamed source who reported that Apple was planning on doubling the size of its in-house marketing and advertising team in an effort to keep tighter control on its brand messaging. Apple’s renewed marketing efforts will likely be focused on countering rival Samsung’s successful advertising campaigns. In an email revealed in the patent trial and cited by AdAge, Schiller told a Media Arts Lab executive that Samsung was “in a zone.”

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